Reasearch Grants



By 2050, close to 65% of the world population will live in cities and urban areas. Many of these areasinclude coastal cities, such as Miami and New York City, which are critical components of the globaleconomy [1]. However, coastal cities are also often the most susceptible areas to natural disasters, such ashurricanes and flooding, which have been occurring with an increasing frequency due to sea-level rise andclimate change. Making coastal cities resilient to failures stemming from such natural disasters is there-fore a critical societal need [2].

Resilience describes the ability of a system to reestablish a satisfying level of performance after the occur-rence of damage. According to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration [3], coastal re-silience describes the ability of a community to “bounce back” after hazardous events such as hurricanes,coastal storms, and flooding - rather than simply reacting to impacts. A resilient coastal city must be moredamage tolerant to natural disasters limiting its physical and socio-economic impact. However, cities to-day are large complex systems operating upon a set of interdependent infrastructure systems such as en-ergy, transportation, water and sewer as well as a built environment. The energy network is essential forthe functioning of the city as other infrastructure networks and services rely on it. The transportation net-work is important as the ultimate safety measure (evacuation) as well as for recovery purposes guarantee-ing access for providing help and repairing. The water and sewer network is critical for avoiding majorhealth issues (waterborne illnesses), such as typhoid and cholera. The built environment has primaryfunctions for the community, such as sheltering, which are essential for prevention as well as recoverypurposes. Although the role of the aforementioned networks is critical for a resilient city, no study wasfound focusing on their impact of their interconnection.

The damage inflicted on a city’s critical infrastructure depends on the nature of the event, the primaryfailure type, and the infrastructure system that is affected [4]. Therefore, it is imperative that the analysisapproach employed to assess the broad socio-economic impacts due to damages takes into account thecity’s urban and community design as well as the infrastructure systems and their characteristics. Howev-er, such approaches face a number of challenges [4]: a) the lack of comprehensive datasets and/or accessto relevant datasets; b) the need for integration of socio-economic methods for impact assessment of dam-ages in models of infrastructure systems; c) the need for resilient operation in face of failure uncertainty;and d) the necessity of a computational platform that can effectively simulate infrastructure networks,their interdependencies and damages.

To overcome these challenges, the proposed researchcenters urban and community design, engineering andcomputer science around social sciences focusing on Miami-Dade County, a global city often identified as“ground zero” for sea-level rise and climate related haz-ards. Flooding hazards due to sea-level rise affects closeto 10% of the Earth’s population, who live in low-lyingcoastal areas [5]. It reflects thus a global problem. How-ever, its hazard implications and potential socio-economic impacts depend on local parameters such aselevation and regional sea-level rise variations [6], aswell as possible exposure to storm surge induced by ex-treme weather events such as hurricanes. One of the mostvulnerable areas to sea-level rise and storm surge flood-ing is South Florida with Miami-Dade County identifiedas one of most economically vulnerable metropolitanareas to sea-level rise in the United States [7].  

The goal of the proposed research is to develop a holistic and integrated framework for enhancing theresilience of coastal cities through surveying, modeling, simulation and online optimization. Figure 1 pre-sents the three fields of actions (I. Urban and Community Design; II. Engineering; and III. Computer Sci-ence), the integration of IV. Social Sciences in them as well as their actions and interactions. A close col-laboration with the Cities of Miami and Miami Beach will enables us to access or createrelevant datasets identifying key typologies, morphologies, and socio-economic characteristics that willbe analyzed in terms of engineering and socio-economic resilience. Through these analyses we will createmeta-models that will be integrated in a network simulation and optimization platform in order to informthe urban and community designer on the potential impact of a disaster for certain morphological para-digm sets as well as on the effect of anticipatory measures. The fundamental research hypothesis is thatthrough the integration of socio-economic characteristics in an advanced simulation and optimizationplatform for critical infrastructure networks, advantageous network structures that increase reserves indamage tolerance while reducing socio-economic impacts can be identified.